I can’t imagine what it’s like to have a food restriction. Scratch that, I totally can. I did the Ideal Protein diet a few years ago and lost 40 lbs in three months eating only boiled shrimp, grilled chicken breasts, garlic and as much iceberg lettuce as I wanted—it was wretched! Though I wanted to commit suicide at times, I looked fabulous. And if that’s your thing, being miserably thin, by all means go for it. I couldn’t sustain it as the lifestyle change successful dieters are always talking about, but you give it your best shot!
Tasteless jokes aside, that diet, and every other reverse-binge I’ve ever tried for that matter—is voluntary. All temporary states of epicurean intolerance for me to transition in and out of on a whim or whenever I needed to slip into a pair of skinny jeans. But people with legitimate food allergies don’t have a choice. And just the thought of being gluten intolerant, or dairy-free, really pulls at my fat-girl heartstrings.
Never have I experienced this human sadness firsthand more so than on our recent trip to Israel. That’s where Jonathan and I became friends with Adam—one of these poor food-deprived souls with a very sensitive stomach. Adam is a gentle and kindhearted man, a loving and devoted husband, a thoughtful and passionate teacher, and a comedic genius who flies under the radar only to slay the room with laughter with one of his unexpected puns. One could say his love of food is stronger than that of his fabulous cookbook-editing wife Kaitlin’s, but unfortunately he never really gets to express that side of himself because he’s both gluten and dairy intolerant. A burden we quickly learned both he, and the martyr Kaitlin, bear together.
From Tel Aviv to the Galilee to Jerusalem, our group enjoyed the most amazing breakfast buffets of yogurt spreads, hard and soft cheeses, za’atar sprinkled pitas, fresh baked rolls covered in sesame seeds, and butter-filled flaky pastries with creamy custards and, well, you get the point.
Normally when I’m around people like Adam who say they have “celiacs disease” or are “severely lactose intolerant” I just roll my eyes and avoid sitting at their end of the table during meals out of fear that their restrictions would somehow impede my interest and ability in eating two—sometimes three—of everything in sight.
But I’m happy to report Adam’s a rare breed of finicky eaters. And like any self-respecting human with a dietary restriction, Adam did the honorable thing, and said nothing. He didn’t complain once. He never begged and pleaded for the group to order “stuff that he can eat” out of fear that the lowest common denominator would have left us eating hummus with spoons and frowns. Instead he just searched for items that worked for his tummy, and silently starved himself if there weren’t any. He is truly an honor and pleasure to dine with.
And since he was so thoughtful and considerate of the majority (aka us selfish asshole pigs), I wanted to create a Passover cake recipe that is both gluten and dairy free just for him. A cake that he could be proud of eating this Passover (or whenever!), and that isn’t going to feel like a sacrifice for the rest of us either.
Adam’s Dairy & Gluten Free Passover Cake
The name for this magical gluten and dairy free chocolate Passover cake was inspired by our friend Adam who gets sick to his stomach if he eats gluten or dairy, and I just couldn’t bear it to think of him only eating sorbet or those Manischewitz fruit slices for dessert this Passover. Hence the name Adam’s Passover Cake.
But for those of you who don’t know Adam. Or if you’re not Jewish and you just want a fudge-like flourless chocolate cake recipe, I also call it the Fault Line Cake, because of the giant crack that forms across the top as it bakes. Living in San Francisco, the earthquake capital of the world, it seemed apropos. Humor me would you. And don’t fret perfectionists, it’s easy to hide the crack—fault line—underneath this delicious gluten and dairy free concoction during the cooling process.
I should point out that this cake is only kosher for Passover if you’re of the Sephardic persuasion. This entertaining NPR piece covers the controversy in detail.
- 1½ cups slivered almonds toasted
- ½ cup pine nuts toasted
- ¼ cup brown rice flour
- 1 tblsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 5 large eggs yolks and white separated
- ½ cup coconut oil (refined)*
- 1⅓ cup semi sweet chocolate
- 1¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tblsp ground cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper (if you want to taste the heat, add a dash or two more)
- 1 tblsp espresso
- 1 tblsp almond liquor (can use Amaretto, Disaronno or even rum)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp cream of tartar (optional)
- sprinkling of powdered sugar (optional)
*I’m suggesting you use refined coconut oil because it tastes less like coconut, and I find that sometimes when you use coconut oil in baking, the end product ends up tasting like sun tanning oil and we want to avoid that if we can.
Place a rack in the middle of the oven, and heat to 350° F
Spray the bottom and sides of a 9 inch round cake pan and cover with parchment paper. Then spray the paper again with non-stick spray and set aside.
In a toaster oven toast the almonds and pine nuts at 300° F for 7 minutes and then watch them for a minute or two more until they start to turn golden and become fragrant. Almonds and pine nuts can burn easily so watch them closely. [you can also toast the almonds and pine nuts on the stovetop in a dry medium skillet over medium heat, or use the regular oven and just kick the temperature up to 350° F when your done.]
Once lightly toasted, remove the nuts from the oven/toaster and let them cool completely.
In a food processor grind the cooled toasted almonds and pine nuts with 1 cup of granulated sugar until it’s a fine course meal.
Place the ground sugar, almond and pine nut mixture in a small mixing bowl and whisk in ¼ cup brown rice flour, 1 tblsp unsweetened cocoa powder, ½ tsp baking powder, 1 tblsp ground cinnamon,⅛ tsp (or more) cayenne pepper, and ¼ tsp salt until combined and then set aside.
Place the 1⅓ cup semi sweet chocolate pieces and ½ cup refined coconut oil in a large glass bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir regularly until the chocolate and coconut oil is completely mixed, smooth, and glossy. When done, remove from heat and let cool.
Once it’s had a few minutes to cool down, because you don’t want the eggs to cook and curdle when you add them, stir in the 5 egg yolks, 1 tblsp espresso, 1 tblsp almond liquor, and 1 tsp vanilla extract. The mixture will instantly start to thicken and that’s okay. Once combined set this aside.
Mix the melted chocolate and coconut oil with the dry ingredients until combined.
In the bowl of a standing mixer affixed with the whip attachment, whip the 5 eggs whites and ⅛ tsp of cream of tartar on low speed for a few minutes until frothy. Then increase the speed to high, and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of granulated sugar and whip into stiff peaks. Should take another 4-6 minutes.
Gently fold the whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture (a third at a time) until completely combined and there are no visible swirls of white left.
Fill the cake pan with the mixture and smack the cake pan on the counter a few times to release some of the bubbles in the batter. Place the cake pan on a rimmed backing sheet incase anything spills over the edge. Bake at 350°F for 60 mins or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean or with just a few moist crumbs.
You will most likely see a large crack across the top of the cake, that’s another sign that it’s good and ready.
Once the cake has had a chance to cool for at least 20 minutes, top with an upside down plate or platter, and then invert both the cake pan and plate/platter. The cake should slide out of the pan and onto the platter leaving the perfectly smooth top and sides exposed.
This is where you can decide if you want to finish the cake with a sanding of powdered sugar, cover it with a ganache, or serve it with a dulce de leche dairy free caramel sauce, etc. You don’t have to do anything to this cake if you don’t want, but if you’re going the caramel sauce or ganache route, you’ll need to find recipes that don’t use cream if you want to keep this gluten and dairy free.
This cake is delicious warm or at room temperature, but it’s also amazing chilled. When cold, it gets dense like a fudge brownie.